Saturday will see England face Tonga for the second test with Shaun Wane’s side having an opportunity to tie the series win up nice and early, however they’ll be without two star players from St Helens.
England had edged the first test 22-18 at Saints’ Totally Wicked Stadium but during that clash both Morgan Knowles and Tommy Makinson picked up injuries, with the former having taken to social media to confirm he is out for the series and will now focus on recovery.
Knowles posted on X: “Im gutted the test series is over for me, and I can’t play any further part in it… Time now to rest, recover and look forward to supporting the boys in the last 2 games”
It had also been confirmed that star winger Dom Young would play no further part after a spell in hospital was triggered by an infection, the Sydney Roosters bound winger now resting up.
As for Tommy Makinson it was confirmed that he wouldn’t feature due to a wrist injury but injuries at international level simply mean next man up and it’s been confirmed that their boots will be filled by Warrington pair Ben Currie and Matty Ashton.
Wane is still without his traditional captain George Williams with the Warrington Wolves’ playmaker serving the second game of his two match ban, however debut captain Jack Welsby performed brilliantly in the first test, as did debutant Mikey Lewis who deputised in the halves for Williams.
Both players will star again at the weekend having been named in the squad for Saturday with the series bubbling up nicely following game one.
Tongan captain Addin Fonua-Blake’s post match comments about Tongan ‘giving England the win’ hadn’t sat well with Shaun Wane who labelled the comments as ‘insulting’, whilst Tonga’s coach Kristian Woolf had criticised the speed of the English game.
It all sets up nicely for a great game at Huddersfield on Saturday with another strong crowd expected to turn up after almost 13,000 witnessed the first clash at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
England confirmed their squad via a statement on the RFL website.
“Warrington Wolves winger Matty Ashton is set to make his second international appearance for England on Saturday, as Head Coach Shaun Wane makes two changes to his squad for the game against Tonga at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium (KO 2.30pm).
“Ashton comes in for Tommy Makinson and teammate Ben Currie replaces Morgan Knowles – the St Helens pair having picked up wrist and thumb injuries respectively during last Sunday’s 22-18 victory over Tonga in the series opener at the Totally Wicked Stadium. Knowles, like winger Dom Young, is ruled out of the rest of the three-match series.
“Huddersfield prop Chris Hill will make his 35th full international appearance on home ground at the Johns Smith’s Stadium – only James Graham (44) and Ryan Hall (40) have made more full international appearances for England.”
England Head Coach Shaun Wane says: “Matty Ashton impressed me earlier in the year during the mid-season international against France and has continued on the same path over the last few weeks. I’m really pleased to be able to give him an opportunity against Tonga.
“Last week was a real battle of attrition and we fought hard to come out on top, but we still have work to do to win this three-game series. We know that Tonga will be hurt, they’ll come out even stronger, and will be seeking revenge this weekend. It is up to us to ensure that doesn’t happen and we come away with the victory – and the series.
“The England fans came out in force at St Helens last week and we need a repeat of that at Huddersfield on Saturday.”
England’s squad for the second Test
Matty Ashton (Warrington Wolves)”
John Bateman (Wests Tigers)
Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves)
Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves)
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors)
Chris Hill (Huddersfield Giants)
Tom Johnstone (Catalans Dragons)
Toby King (Wigan Warriors)
Matty Lees (St Helens)
Mikey Lewis (Hull KR)
Mike McMeeken (Catalans Dragons)
Robbie Mulhern (Leigh Leopards)
Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos)
Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters)
Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors)
Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves)
Jack Welsby (St Helens)
Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders)